I’ve shared my journey with Parkinson’s Disease from diagnosis to involvement as an advocate to raise awareness of a disease that is here to stay until we come together and get rid of it once and for all and to educate the public about the devastating effects that it has on our family of people living with Parkinson’s Disease in all areas of the world.
I have failed to mention one part of the journey that still breaks my heart when I think about it but writing has allowed me to look back and know that some of the most difficult things that we have to go through make us stronger and more resolved to do our part to make this world a better place.
I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease on Wednesday, February 21, 2007, by my local neurologist. At that time, he recommended a second opinion and we decided to make arrangements to see a movement disorders specialist in Houston. I began the process of sharing my diagnosis with my eight siblings, adult nephews and nieces, in laws and friends at work. As easy as this was because of the aforementioned weight having been lifted off of my shoulders, I still had one person to tell, which for me, was the toughest thing I have ever had to do.
I remember finally deciding that I would not be able to tell them in person because I could not imagine seeing their reaction to my diagnosis. It took two weeks of picking up the phone, starting to dial and then placing the phone back on the receiver. I wasn’t ready. It was two weeks to the day after diagnosis that I decided to step into the bedroom, close the door, pick up the phone, sit on the bed, and dial the number.
“Dad, I have something that I need to tell you. I’ve been to see a neurologist and he thinks I have Parkinson’s Disease”. His response, not in the calmest of voices, was, “Does he think you have it or does he know for sure?” I went on to tell him that he had prescribed some pills that had helped relieve some of the symptoms but that he wanted me to get a second opinion. We visited about what I had been experiencing for a few years, which I had kept to myself, because I didn’t think anyone needed to be bothered with what I had been dealing with for so long. What he said next is what broke my heart and is still hard to think of today. He said that because of his age, he should be the one having this disease, and not his baby. You see, he has always introduced me as his baby (I’m the youngest of five boys, with three older sisters and a younger sister). I’ve never been embarassed in any way by this because if you were to see the pride that shows on his face when he says this, you would experience the love that he has always had for all nine of us. My mom, whom passed away in 1999, was the same way. Even through all the trials and tribulations that occur in a big family, she never gave up on us and loved us without end.
Moving forward, my dad has been my prayer warrior, biggest supporter on my journey with PD, and a pretty effective advocate for PD awarenes in his own right. I will never be able to thank him enough for his steadfast support and unwavering love. He prays for me and the rest of us that travel the PD journey every day. I know this because he has told me so.